Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ahh, accomplishment

There's nothing like setting goals for the day and getting them all done.

Dishes. Check.
Go to store. Check.
Drop off mail. Check.
Make sun tea. (And not forget it overnight.) Check.
Get the trash together and out to the curb. Check.
Write 2000+ words of fabulous erotica short story. Check.

Now I'm just waiting for the delivery guys to show up with my new dryer, and finishing cleaning up the house.

Sometimes it's hard not to get a little down about being unemployed, but the little victories help. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Absence makes for dull blogs

Sorry for the lack of blogging this month folks. A dear friend of mine just had her first baby last week - yeay! But I've spent some time staying with them out of state so she wouldn't be alone while her husband was at school/work, and I'll be heading back down there on Wednesday to help out. She's bedridden for a bit, poor thing.

I love being able to help out (I mean, being unemployed has to be good for something, right?) but it has put a huge kink in my writing schedule. I have at least been able to do some more tweaking on my novel while I wait to hear back from the agent I met last month, and I have also submitted two short stories this month. I keep wondering where April has gone...

I have to admit, the waiting is harder than I thought it would be. When I was working full time it was easier to submit-it-and-forget-it. Now that I'm basically writing for a living there is less to distract me from thinking about when I'll find out if I'm making any progress. It's great to have projects out and more in the works, and if the current submissions are rejected it's not like I'm going to stop trying, but man it would be nice to have some more credits to put in my author bio.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Conference seminar discussion #2 - Online Revenue

The second seminar I went to at the conference was on tapping into online revenue streams. In other words, making money writing on the internet. The speaker mostly talked about writing articles for online magazines, or e-zines.

First off, there are several different pay structures. Some websites buy the articles outright, usually paying between $10 and $20, although some pay more. A few sites pay a salary (the one she mentioned was About.com) but they are harder to get into and usually require you to spend 20 hours a week writing. Some sites pay based on the number of views, and some pay per ad click. Those are the basic ones, although there are a few alternately structured sites as well.

For most of these sites, you need to learn about SEO - Search Engine Optimization. That's how to write so that search engines like Google will show your article in the first two or three pages of a search. Most readers find articles via web searches, not by going to the e-zine and looking from there. For a good post on how to write for e-zines, check out this page:


Be careful of "poison words" or "stop words" when writing for sites that pay based on Google ad clicks. There are certain words (no one knows for sure what they all are) that will cause Google to not place ads on your article's page, meaning you won't make any money off of it. These words tend to deal with sex, death, profanity, drugs, gambling - things like that. This can make it difficult to write articles about subjects like breast cancer or date rape. The advice is to use the words you think it will find offensive as little as possible in the article.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Conference panel discussion

First I want to direct folks over to Nathan Bransford's blog today, he's got a discussion going on people's favorite books on writing which I think is very valuable.

At the conference this last weekend was a panel discussion by four of the literary agents/managers who were there doing pitch sessions. Three do books and one does screenplays.

First off, I was surprised by the number of newbie questions that people were asking. I mean, I know that conferences are great places for people to come and ask questions, but a lot of these were things that could be learned by reading FORMATTING AND SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT. Things like keeping your query letters short and to the point, and that you need to do your homework about the agent you are submitting to - spell their name right, make sure they still work there, make sure they represent the type of writing you are submitting. That kind of thing.

Novel length was an interesting part of the discussion. The consensus was that between 75k and 85k is the ideal length for a novel, and don't submit a first novel that is over 100k words. I'd heard this before, but I had never really realized just how deadly serious they were. One agent, with a pained look on his face, mentioned that he had a book that he had requested the full manuscript for sitting in his office waiting for him when he got back from the conference, and this book was 175k words long. The look on the other agents's faces was priceless. He himself had the long-suffering look of someone who is about to be martyred. What really stuck with me though was when he shook his head and said that even though he had known how long it was when he asked for it, he wasn't even sure he could bring himself to read it, it was so long.

I hope for that author's sake the book is another SHOGUN. I mean, the look on this guy's face really brought the point home. Short. Short is good.

When the discussion turned to the publishing industry in general the outlook was grim. "No one is buying fiction, and everything's done by committee." Publishers will do next to nothing for you unless you are already a huge name, even if they do pick up your book. The mom & pop bookstores are all closing, and even some of the major chains are looking at bankruptcy.

They also said that the internet is getting more and more important, not just in the selling of books but also in the marketing and promotion. I heard that a lot at the conference. It's particularly big with the Young Adult crowd, because the kids are all on the internet anyway and they can really feel like there is a relationship between them as the readers and the author.

The only area that the agents felt was doing well was escapist fiction. Not surprising, really.